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Changing the Modal Law School: Rethinking U.S. Legal Education in (Most) Schools

37 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2012  

Nancy B. Rapoport

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law

Date Written: April 11, 2012

Abstract

This essay argues that discussions of educational reform in U.S. law schools have suffered from a fundamental misconception: that the education provided in all of the American Bar Association-accredited schools is roughly the same. A better description of the educational opportunities provided by ABA-accredited law schools would group the schools into three rough clusters: the “elite” law schools, the modal (most frequently occurring) law schools, and the precarious law schools. Because the elite law schools do not need much “reforming,” the better focus of reform would concentrate on the modal and precarious schools; however, both elite and modal law schools could benefit from some changes to help law students move from understanding the theoretical underpinnings of law to understanding how to translate those underpinnings into practice. “Practice” itself is a complex concept, requiring both an understanding of the law and an understanding of how to relate well to others. Because law students may not understand how to relate well to those with different backgrounds from their own, law schools should do more to explain how one’s perspective is both limiting and mutable. Too many law schools suggest that students can “see” different perspectives by, essentially, merely thinking harder. The essay concludes with some suggestions regarding possible reforms of U.S. legal education, focusing primarily on the modal law schools.

Keywords: Legal education, higher education, ABA-accreditation, legal employment, bar passage

JEL Classification: K10, I29

Suggested Citation

Rapoport, Nancy B., Changing the Modal Law School: Rethinking U.S. Legal Education in (Most) Schools (April 11, 2012). Penn State Law Review, Vol. 116, No. 1119, 2012; UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2038409

Nancy Rapoport (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law ( email )

4505 S. Maryland Parkway
Box 451003
Las Vegas, NV 89154-1003
United States
713-202-1881 (Phone)
702-895-2482 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.law.unlv.edu

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